We owe a debt of gratitude to Michigan Sen. Carl Levin (D) who called a spade a spade this week when he penned a very direct letter to Indiana’s Governor Mitch Daniels (R) calling out the state’s Department of Natural Resources for down-playing the threat posed by the Asian Carp to the Great Lakes.
“I am deeply concerned about statements made recently by staff in the Indiana Department of Natural Resources regarding the threat of Asian carp entering the Great Lakes via the Wabash River and Little Wabash River,” writes Sen. Levin. “Public statements by the Department staff downplay the threat the carp pose, contrary to what my staff has been told by federal and state agencies.”
The threat of the voracious fish getting into the Great Lakes via the Wabash and Little Wabash Rivers has intensified since the finding of spawning fish in the Little Wabash just miles from the Great Lakes.
First the Indiana DNR rebutted the Senator and Co-Chair of the Great Lakes Task Force in newsprint when they told the Associated Press that they have no evidence that the fish have been found in the areas “people are saying” even though the Environmental Protection Agency has confirmed that the carp are 20 miles from a point where the river connects with the Maumee River that flows right into Lake Erie.
Then, they further upset the Senator when they published a press release on July 2 on the finding of Asian carp in the Wabash River that soothes to the point of pacification. First of all, the DNR writes the reason for the press release is because “recent reports and discussions lack clarity” regarding Asian carp in the Wabash watershed and they want to “clear up these misunderstandings.” They proceed to silence the alarm with statements such as:
“Asian Carp have been present in the Wabash River for at least 15 years. The mouth of the Wabash River feeds to the Ohio River, which in turn is a tributary to the Mississippi River. Asian Carp have been moving up these waterways since their accidental introduction in Arkansas in the 1970s. Indiana DNR has observed Asian Carp in spot locations on the Wabash River as far upstream as the dam that creates Roush Lake (Huntington County). The concrete and earth dam is 91-feet high and 6,500-feet wide, with a top width of 46 feet. Asian Carp would be unable to pass beyond this barrier to the upper stretches of the Wabash River.”
But Sen. Levin calls them out saying, “This statement is misleading, as carp have been discovered spawning this year in the Little Wabash River, which connects to the Wabash River bypassing that dam, making carp passage unaffected by the dam. While the carp may have not moved past the dam on the Wabash River, they have unimpeded access up the Little Wabash River where a flood could allow their passage to the Great Lakes.”
Finally, the Senator asks for immediate action to deal with the encroaching invasive species that has the potential to deaden the Lakes for eternity. At the same time, he wants to draw Gov. Daniels to these statements and the problem at hand: the Asian carp.